Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn’s and colitis in the world—the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

One in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis and by 2030, the number of Canadians with IBD is expected to rise to 400,000 (approximately 1% of the population).

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is working to change that. 

Founded in 1974 by parents of children living with Crohn’s or colitis, the charity has since invested over $130 million into research, “leading to important breakthroughs in genetics, gut microbes, inflammation, and cell repair as well as laying the groundwork for new and better treatments”. 

As Danny Vasquez, HR Manager at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, explains: “We’re the only national, volunteer-based charity in Canada that’s focused on funding research towards finding cures for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and improving the lives of Canadians who are living with these diseases.” 

“We’re very grassroots,” Danny continues. “Our focus and mission is to work with our volunteers to raise awareness and, through awareness, raise funds that we can put towards research as well as supporting individuals living with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis.” 

“Prior to Rise, we were paper-based.” 

As a charity, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada allocates the majority of their funds to their programs. 

“We’re very slim,” Danny shares, “and very careful with the funds we do end up putting towards administrative costs. When I joined the organization, we were looking for a new benefits provider as we’d just received a really large increase from ours. We chose Sun Life and that’s how we learned about Rise, through the partnership with Sun Life.” 

“One of my initial mandates was to focus on engagement and bettering the employee experience,” Danny continues. “We didn’t have any systems in place. Prior to Rise, we were paper-based with very outdated manual processes. The company we were using to run payroll was pretty basic too.” 

With employees throughout Canada, even something as simple as requesting time off could be a lengthy process. 

As Danny explains: “We’d get a lot of feedback from employees about how much work it was to print out a form, fill it out, mail it to their manager who might be in another city, then the manager would have to sign and approve it, and then mail the form to our national office so we’d have it for record-keeping purposes.” 

Wanting to make the things that matter to employees faster and more accessible to them, Danny requested a Rise demo. “I attended it, together with our VP of Finance Administration. We saw how a lot of our manual, time-consuming processes could be automated, how we could better the employee experience. Rise gave us that opportunity. And thankfully, going back to the financial side of things, we found Rise to be quite affordable and something that we could actually invest in and get a return on our investment.”  

“The employee experience is much, much better now,” Danny sums up. “I find that everything is very intuitive and seamless. And our employees say the same thing. Everything makes sense in terms of the steps that need to be taken to get to the information that you’re looking for. I have to mention your Knowledge Base too. I love that thing. I use it all the time.” 

A simple, seamless transition for everyone

The transition to Rise happened in stages: Payroll, HR, Time and Attendance, and Recruiting

“Payroll was the first thing that we focused on launching right away,” Danny shares. “Moving from our old provider to Rise was very easy, and the experience for our employees improved right away. Before, they’d have issues logging into the system in order to get their pay stubs. Rise emails the pay stubs directly to our employees and even that little change means a lot in terms of making information more accessible to our employees and letting them focus on the important work that we do.”  

Then, the Rise HR platform completely changed how Crohn’s and Colitis Canada collects and tracks employee information. “It’s so nice that we now have a database that houses all of our employee information, their personal contact information, emergency contact, etc, and now employees also have access to that information and they’re able to see what we have on file as well. We had very positive feedback from our employees after introducing Rise HR to them.” 

“And then,” Danny continues, “things got even better when we transitioned to Time and Attendance. Before, employees would email us to ask how many vacation days they had, how many sick days, can they take this time off… Now that they have all that information at their fingertips, it’s made time management so much easier to manage.” 

“Rise Recruiting has been a lifesaver and timesaver.”  

Information about candidates was “all over the place” before Danny and his team started using Rise Recruiting. 

As Danny explains: “Some candidates would come in through our careers email, some would be housed on the various job boards I was posting on. I remember seeing the announcement about Rise Recruiting in the newsletter that Rise sends out every month with updates on products. I jumped on it, started using it right away.” 

“It’s so nice to just have everything in one place,” Danny shares. “Everything is very intuitive, I was able to set it up to allow for my workflow. And the collaboration feature? It’s a gift. I like that managers can go in there and review applicants, read their resumes, read my comments and leave their own comments. Before, I’d have to print the resumes and cover letters, or email all these PDFs to managers and retype all of my notes… It just was a hassle and more work for me. Now, all I have to do is sign in and look at the dashboard. And because the managers can sign in and see the same dashboard I’m seeing, see where everyone is in the recruitment process, it makes them feel more involved in the process.” 

Fundraising in the time of COVID-19 

Understandably, the pandemic has had a negative impact on donations. 

“We’ve had to be creative in terms of moving our fundraising efforts online to still allow for some revenue generation,” Danny shares. 

“Our annual Gutsy Walk, for example, was virtual this year and we encouraged people to safely participate in whatever way worked for them. We didn’t bring in the same fundraising amounts as last year but we still raised nearly 2 million dollars. We have online raffles and auctions happening and local virtual events, and we absolutely appreciate the support of our community. It’s a challenging time for everyone.” 

If you’d like to donate or volunteer with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, please visit crohnsandcolitis.ca


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